I reached a point today where my head was saying it was full, and my tummy was saying that it was empty. Which, I’ve found, is an excellent indicator that it’s time for lunch. It’s always great when the various parts of me communicate that clearly and when their various needs aren’t in competition with each other.
When I first got counseling several years ago, I had heard of “the inner child” but I was pretty skeptical about its existence or value. Now, I can say after about six years of working with all my inner “peeps,” including the inner child, that she does indeed exist and that in many cases, she can be a key to lasting positive change.
Really, it’s not that odd to realize that you have within you different parts, each with different impulses, agendas and voices. (No, not necessarily those kinds of voices. That’s abnormal psych. Whole ‘nother topic.) It’s just like my lunchtime prompting. My brain was overstimulated and needed a break. My stomach was empty and uncomfortable. Two different needs, two different sets of input from my “parts,” but the same solution.
Just like your body has different parts that have different needs and demands, your personality (or ego) has different parts with different needs and demands. Much of the time, the communication and interplay between these parts is subtle and unconscious. Some of the time, it’s quite obvious.
With practice you can learn to observe and listen to these different parts. You can get to know them, just as you would other people, and learn what they need and want. The benefit of this is that you can figure out when and how to appropriately provide for those needs, in a conscious way. Because if you don’t, very often they will find sneaky ways to get what they want in unconscious ways.
How many times do you find yourself, like Paul, doing the very thing that you don’t want to do and not doing the thing that you do want to do? Partly, this is attributable to our sin nature, but it’s also partly attributable to the fact that we often ignore legitimate needs until they express themselves in unconsciously motivated behaviors. Often, those unconsciously motivated behaviors are unhealthy and hurtful to us, and thus sinful (because we belong to God, our bodies and minds are not ours to abuse).
One could make the argument that according to Matthew 22:34-40, all sin breaks down into breaking God’s heart, hurting others, and hurting ourselves. So our dysfunctional behavior and our sin nature are closely linked, and possibly functionally-speaking, the same thing. Because of this, I personally view becoming a healthier and more functional person to be an element of discipleship. If discipleship is being formed in Christ‘s likeness, then becoming more like Him automatically entails becoming a whole, healthy person (unless you’d like to make the argument that Christ had dysfunctional hangups. If so, please allow me a moment to step to a safe distance before the lighting strike hits you. But I digress.)
I will probably continue this line of thought in my next post, but I have run out of time today to write it. Comment (or not) as ye please. 🙂